My habit has been to at least try to brisk-walk an exercise mile each day, preferably in the early morning. I don't always make it. If summer heat makes daytime walking unbearable, I walk in the cooler evening with a flashlight and cell phone in case darkness overtakes me. Not in winter! That's (hopefully) treadmill time!
I know most of the neighborhood Labs, Retrievers, German Shepherds and small soprano yappers by name; they know me by scent or sight. They may bark and growl ferociously, but I pay no attention, and I don’t fear their attack. I'm absolutely certain they will keep their distance. Why? Because their owners have installed invisible electric fences underground; the dogs wear special collars that give them a nasty, painful electric shock if they even venture to put their paws over the invisible fence line hidden under the grass.
In a corner of the living room in my home I have a large glasstop coffee table with dozens of framed photos of all my sons, their wives and children and children's children. I am blessed that it is very crowded!
The photos are not merely on display for bragging purposes; they serve as personal daily prayer reminders. As I pass by the pictures multiple times a day, I commend my family members by name and face to God's protection and blessing and ask that their guardian angels not doze off on their 24/7 watch or go on extended coffee breaks at some celestial “STARbucks.” When one of my family celebrates a birthday or has a special need, I move his or her picture front and center for the day and ask God for His special favor.
As a birthday gift to several of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I have given them a large, ornately gold-framed color copy of a familiar classic painting. It depicts a guardian angel overshadowing a little boy and girl crossing a rickety, broken bridge over churning whitewater with lightning flashing over the woods in the background. A copy hangs on my own wall above the family photos.
On the back of the frame I personalized it by writing the child's name and several relevant Scripture verses to remind them of God's promises of love and angelic care. I have written that I am praying for them while I'm on earth, and that I expect to continue when I reach heaven.
"God will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone" (Psalm 91:11, 12).
"Jesus said, 'See that you never look down on one of these little ones. I assure you, their angels in heaven constantly behold My heavenly Father’s face….Let the little children come to Me. Do not hinder them. The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.' And He laid His hands on their heads in prayer" (Matthew 18:10; 19:13-15).
"God will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not fall asleep....The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever" (Psalm 121:3, 7,and 8).
"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God in whose promise I glory, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3,4)
"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who trust in Him and rescues them" (Psalm 34:7).
When my sons were young, my care for them was primarily hands on. Now that they are grown and flown from our family nest and have established nests of their own, my role is more hands off and hands lifted in prayer. How blessed I am to see my children's children and some of their children!
Both my husband's grandmother and my paternal grandmother were known to have prayed forward through the generations to come asking God that their progeny, yet unborn, would come to know God. They left a spiritual legacy of prayer that does not diminish with time. My family and I are heirs of their prayers, and I, in turn, am a spiritual debtor to continue to pray forward for the spiritual welfare of my family in future years.
Each of my extended family members is endowed by God with free will. They are not like the neighborhood canines that wear restraining electric collars that zap them if they step over the line and run off. God allows each one in my family to be responsible for his or her own decisions concerning his eternal state. God doesn't prevent any of them from stepping over the moral line or any other line He doesn’t zap them on the spot, although there are natural consequences.
I can’t pressure them to follow after God. Nevertheless, I can pray without ceasing that the gentle Holy Spirit will lovingly draw each of them to Himself and that the angels God promised will "encamp around" my precious family members. I can pray that the Holy Spirit will warn them of evil and guide them in paths of righteousness into God's revealed Truth.